*Tonight marks the debut of yet another television series based on a British show.
ABC’s “Lucky 7” follows a group of seven gas station employees in Queens, New York who faithfully play the lottery each week…and finally hit the jackpot. But, soon (like, before the pilot ends) the “mo’ money mo’ problems” reality kicks in and starts to cause drama.
The blue-collar septet all work at Gold Star Auto Repair Shop. There’s the ex-con (Stephen Louis Grush) who owes money to the wrong people; his broke brother (Matt Long), who is trying to move his pregnant girlfriend and their other child out of his mama’s house; a talented musician (Summer Bishil) who can finally afford Juilliard; the sweet-natured cashier (Lorraine Bruce) whose husband has been cheating on her; a single mom (Anastasia Phillips) trying to keep her past out of the sudden media onslaught; a mechanic (Luis Antonio Ramos) scheming ways to capitalize on group’s win; and the man who runs the shop, Bob Harris, played by Isiah Whitlock, Jr. Bob wants to buy the Gold Star and transform it into the workplace he has always dreamed of.
“Lucky 7” is based on the current BBC One drama “The Syndicate.” The UK show’s first season saw five supermarket workers in Leeds enter a lottery and win. The second season had employees at a public hospital in Bradford, Yorkshire enter and win – with each episode focusing on a different character.
Whitlock, best known for his role as State Sen. Clay Davis in HBO’s “The Wire,” says he made a decision not to look at the British series, opting instead to give “Lucky 7” a fresh take.
“I mean, I have to admit, I was a little curious about the English Bob, no pun intended, but I did, kind of, shy away from the English, only because I really did want to try and create this character on my own,” Whitlock told us. “I mean, that, to me, is the challenge, and that’s one of those things that I really enjoy doing, and I wanted to I didn’t want to be influenced by any of the choices that I made by asking too many questions.”
ABC’s version was penned by David Zabel and Jason Richman, whose last project was the short-lived “Detroit 1-8-7.” Whitlock put his trust in their words to come up with his take on the character.
“I wanted to, sort of, see what was inside of me and take what Jason and David had written and put that to work first and pray that I didn’t miss the boat,” he said. “But, as I sit here now, I can say I’m very happy with some of the things that I’ve been coming up with and very excited about doing even more.”
Below, Whitlock tells us what he would do if he hit the jackpot in real life.
ABC’s “Lucky 7” premieres tonight (Sept. 24) at 10 p.m. Watch the trailer below.